The digital revolution brings about efficient socio-economic development across all sectors of business, governance and social well-being and is vital for any blue economy development.
While Africa has lagged behind in the adoption of the digital switch, most countries on the continent are now embracing digital transformation at an unprecedented rate, and Zanzibar’s blue economy is no exception.
In Zanzibar, the digital revolution will allow the island to improve trade activities through e-commerce platforms, ease access to information and allow for easier and more efficient tax compliance.
The Digital revolution also means more transparency in governance since every transaction, and every bit of communication leaves a digital footprint that can be traced.
With the increasing penetration of mobile phones and the internet on the island, the digital revolution allows Zanzibar to become a green and cashless economy.
In its effort to boost its blue economy, digital transformation is at the core. Digital transformation is vital in environment conservation as it reduces CO2 emissions and helps to mitigate climate change, a vital aspect to protecting marine life on the island.
- Zanzibar President Mwinyi launches Bwefum ICT community centre and telecommunication towers.
- ICT improves connectivity between health centres allowing for faster transfer of patients
- TPA invests in ICT transformation to increase cargo handling capacity and attract traders
E-commerce rides on the back of digital transformation, and it allows for easier payment for services, fees and fines, which in turn translates to increased government revenue.
In recognition of the importance of digital transformation, the government of Zanzibar has committed itself to support the digital revolution by creating supporting policies and enabling capacity building for ICT stakeholders.
Speaking to press recently, Zanzibar President Dr Hussein Mwinyi said Zanzibar must become an inclusive and sustainable digital economy.
“We are determined to capitalize on digital transformations to pursue blue economy for social and economic development of our people,” President Mwinyi said in his address of the sixth Information and Technology Communication (ICT) International conference that was hosted on the island.
He acknowledged the value of ICT in creating jobs and building an inclusive and sustainable economy on the island.
In his support of ICT development in Zanzibar, President Mwinyi launched the Bwefum ICT community centre and telecommunication towers.
The Bwefum ICT Community Centre is one of 11 ICT hubs, which the union government through the Universal Communication Service Access Fund (UCSAF) has constructed in Unguja and Pemba along with supporting the construction of 42 other communication towers across the islands.
These towers improve ICT across the island and as a result it means improved interconnectivity between businesses, government authorities and the general public.
President Mwinyi emphasized that inter-connectivity will help improve social services. For example, when it comes to healthcare provision, ICT is vital in communication between service providers allowing for the transfer of patient and staff info seamlessly in the shortest time possible.
Digital revolution and national development in Tanzania
Among other efforts by the government of Tanzania to speed up digital transformation in the country is the most recent investment to use electricity poles to increase efficiency in spread of internet broadband connectivity across the country.
To achieve this goal, the Tanzania Ministry of Communications and Information Technology has partnered with the Tanzania Electricity Supply Company Limited (Tanesco) to improve broadband connectivity by using the country’s electricity poles.
Through this project, Tanzania is on the way to connect over ten regions to the national fibre network and that way expand broadband reach over 4, 449km.
By using electricity poles instead of digging trenches to lay the fibre optic cables, Tanzania is able to speed up the distribution of the national fibre network. As the Minister of Communications and Information Technology Dr Faustine Ndugulile put it, using electricity poles instead of digging trenches is cheaper and faster and will in effect triple the pace at which fibre optic internet connectivity is been distributed across the country.
“The aim of the government is to ensure that at least 94% of Tanzanians have access to broadband coverage and to have affordable and efficient internet access,” he said.
In the words of the Minister, Tanzania aims to have every home connected to the internet and for their television and mobile phones to be connected to the national broadband.
Digital transformation improving port efficiency
To improve efficiency at the country’s ports, the Tanzania Ports Authority (TPA) invested in major Information Communication Technology projects at its 13 branches distributed across the country.
TPA ensured all its stations are connected with the fiber optic cable through a system called the Multiprotocal Label Switching Virtual Private Network (MPLS VPN). With this connection, TPA is able to improve efficiency by improving speed of communication through all its stations across the country.
The broadband connectivity allows TPA to transfer information instantly from one station to another which allows for better monitoring of transactions and movement of cargo. The efficiency in data transfer translates to efficiency in speed of customs and exercise checking and clearing of transit goods.
“This project helps assist TPA to improve quality of services and that way speed up transactions and efficiency in clearing of goods this in-turn attracts traders to our ports because they know their cargo will be cleared quickly and efficiently and at a lower cost,” commented the then TTCL’s Chief Technical Officer, Mr Senzige Kisenge.
Notably the Dar es Salaam port is the Tanzania principal port with a rated capacity of 4.1 million (dwt) dry cargo and 6.0 million (dwt) bulk liquid cargo. The port handles about 95% of the Tanzania international trade and serves the landlocked countries of Malawi, Zambia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda.
The port now has the capacity to handle 600,000 vehicles per year, a major increase from only 163,000 vehicles that were handled last year.
The 268 per cent capacity increase follows completion of expansion works of Berth Two at Dar es Salaam Port.
With such an increase in capacity, it is vital that TPA also improves its cargo clearance efficiency and that is where the national broadband network comes in.
Notably, Berth Two is only one of eight landing points at Dar es Salaam port and was recently expanded thanks to funding from the World Bank through the Dar es Salaam Maritime Gateway Project (DSMGP).